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Stargazing in June the Summer Triangle

The Summer Triangle
The Summer Triangle
D. Tondreau

There are many things that signal summer is here: baseball, kids out of school, and beautiful gardens among many others. One of my favorites is The Summer Triangle. The Summer Triangle is made up of three bright stars that appear in the east after sunset. You can enjoy them all summer as the move higher and higher in the sky.

To find the Summer Triangle: look east after sunset. Three bright stars form a large triangle. You really can’t miss it. The brightest, Vega is at the top of the triangle. Vega is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra the harp. In 12,500 years Vega will be the pole star (North Star).

The second brightest is Altair (below and right of Vega). Altair is in the constellation Aqulia the eagle. Holding a twelve in ruler at arm’s length will give you some idea of the distance between Vega and Altair.

The dimmest of the three stars is Deneb (below and to the left of Vega). Deneb is the brightest star in Cygnus the swan or the Northern Cross. Even though Deneb appears dim to us it is extremely bright. Current estimates have Deneb at least 160,000 brighter than the Sun and 100 to 200 times the size of the Sun. It is the most distant star you can easily see at 2600 light years.

Deneb and Altair are in the Milky Way which we cannot see from urban locations. If you can get away from city lights bring binoculars and explore around these stars from a reclined position. It will be a memorable experience.

Wishing you clear skies

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